Braaksma a winner for V-Hawk volleyball

By Jordan Murray

Sports Editor

118 wins and 41 losses. That’s the record of the Viterbo volleyball program since Amy Braaksma has walked onto campus. By the time she’s done with her senior season, Braaksma will almost certainly hold the V-Hawk record for wins, likely with more than 130 total.

She will also have at least one Midwest Collegiate Conference Championship under her belt. She won the MCC Newcomer of the Year award as a freshman, and was first team all-conference as a sopho­more and junior. The outside hitter now sits at 1,380 kills for her career, just 38 behind all-time Viterbo lead­er Jenna Lau at press time.

After last year’s 38-5 record and conference championship this year’s team may be even better, and Braaksma is a big part of that. As the team’s lone senior, Braaksma is second in kills with 306 and has a team-leading hitting percentage of .309 for the 24-4 V-Hawks.

Braaksma says that this season has “gone well,” and likens the team to a family. “It’s been lots of fun, es­pecially in big games.”

One of those games came on Sept. 28 against a nationally-ranked NCAA Division III UW-Platteville team. Platteville, a team that handed the V-Hawks one of their five losses last season, gave the V-Hawks all they could handle until Viterbo dug deep for a 15-8 victory in the fifth and final set. Braaksma saw this game as a great example of the team stepping up for big games: “Our en­ergy was down for a while, but we had some big kills late in the match that really pick up the momentum.”

When asked what’s different about this team than the Viterbo teams she’s played on in the past, Braaksma had a simple reply: height. “I used to be one of the tallest girls on the team, but now I’m a shorter hitter. That gives us an advantage, and as we improve, our athletes can push one another within the pro­gram.”

The program itself was a big part of why Braaksma chose Vit­erbo. A tour of campus by the vol­leyball team was the clincher, but Braaksma, a Randolph High School graduate (enrollment 175), also felt welcome in the small-town environ­ment Viterbo provides.

Coach Ryan DeLong was listed as another positive in Braaksma’s Viterbo experience. Braaksma de­scribed him as “picky; he doesn’t want any slackers in his program. I’ve had to endure some teasing from him too, but now I give it back. We can always go to him with prob­lems and talk to him, he’s very un­derstanding.”

Braaksma has made sure that she’s made an impact as more than an athlete on campus in the past four years. She’s a member of the Viterbo Honors program, and will graduate with a degree in visual communications.

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